Some thought we were in trouble when cows became attractions at zoos.
More noticed it was worsening when reports of black market meat-deals flooded the ten o’ clock news.
We all realised we’d doomed Earth herself somewhere around the 2070 mark when more people were seeing diamonds than livestock.
It was becoming clear that our planet was bound to succumb to human greed soon enough.
The relentless waxing glare of the basin-shaped moon cast hazy amber flecks cascading down upon the metropolis beneath it as she furrowed her brow, scowling down upon the blanket of clouds concealing the lifeless ground below. The only thing framing the night was the lackadaisical breeze as it combed the grass through its fingers upon the silhouettes of rolling hills in the distance. Hidden under the cover of the approaching night, the stars elegantly poured into the crisp autumn air. The silence of the anticipation wove constellations into an uneven quilt, suffocating the tense air; making it heavy and humid to the senses. The sun was practically eradicating itself in the shadow of these hills, as if they were emitting the blushing light themselves. All light swiftly fell into the bittersweet embrace of the moon, bathing the forest in particles of flamingo and periwinkle light. It was misty dusk as the distinct shades blurred together at the edges to create a vivid landscape just off course of the city. A river running through the sloping land hung out like a lightning bolt as it was slashed into ribbons over the scenery.
This was one of the six places left on Earth teeming with life.
It was a place of legend, and as many places with myths and quests swirling around it tend to have, it was almost entirely sealed off to the public eye. Only people with parents who worked for the Peacekeepers Division of Justice found refuge within this zone. There were two schools in the entire section, one for primary and one for secondary education – once you’d graduated, you would be recruited. For as long as I’ve been able to retain the concept of speech, I’ve had my nose in books. All kinds of books, really. Dictionaries from languages long forgotten, like French and Spanish. Mathematics textbooks from times when addition was still being taught. Ancient English books from authors like J.K Rowling and Patrick Ness. However, none enticed my interest to such an extent as history books. Books on stacks of books telling tales of former regions and civilisations, the very zone I live in was once referred to as Scotland. Stories of a monarchy and empire that consumed the world. Rumours of war that came before scientists had worked out how to harness solar rays in weapons. There are even entire extracts dedicated to world issues from a hundred years ago, dating back to then civil rights movements that eventually lead up to genome modification and origination surgery fad of the late 2030’s.
Around the Castor Zone, that being the one I live in, there is an electrostatic dome, stretching up to hundreds of kilometres in the air. It is this dome that allows us to call this place home. It is this dome that traps the oxygen and atmosphere in, or so I’m told. Very few can travel between the zones, only the most prestigious and rich members of The Peacekeeping Society are allowed to contort the vacuum suppressing the alpha-ray radiation that contaminates the world outside the zones. I learnt all about the particle studies of vacuums from old physics books – their pages had all sorts of funny squiggles in triangles with odd names, but I didn’t mind. I never really had much of a mentality for asking how things came to be, only why they grew out of fashion. Normally, nowadays, I’m able to decipher the truth for myself, from fragmented memories of a fragmented world; as a child, however, I was always asking ‘why?’, so often in fact, my parents soon became sick of it.
One particular story always interested me, far more than any other ever did, and this was the era stretching from The Second World War, straight through The Cold War, way up to the unravelling of the world’s economy about a decade ago. I always found history closer to what I’ve always known of greater importance that history that shall never be repeated. Maybe then somebody might actually learn from their mistakes. Practically all wars could have been avoided if that happened, but no, instead they appointed literal children to run the globe, like President Trump and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to name a few.
A lot of people here believe the economic crash of 2088 never ended and the living hell we’re struggling through now is the reproductions of it. From the pieces of what I’ve been told, the general grasp I have on the story is that all banks crashed for whatever unknown reason and the world fell into havoc. The jaws of poverty swallowed the world whole and a lot of people died on the streets from starvation and famine. Under the restraint of this chaotic reality, the world leaders of the time band together and created The Peacekeeping Society of World Affairs. It was designed as a world alliance to rival that of NATO and the UN, but not unlike many other things, it soon fell into corruption as uprisings broke out and only the government officials, rich and famous found protection within the zones before the boarders were established. My parents, luckily, were among the first to settle here.
So, all this lead up to me and eleven years on, life seems to have reached some kind of level of artificial peace. Or at the very least, chaos was still being repressed. I was only three when the world was declared inhospitable for human life and we were forced to flee. We’ve been here ever since. I had a rather average childhood, full of no substantial experiences. That brings me to today, perched in the lower branches of a tree as the midnight air wreathes through the land beneath the relentless waxing glare of the basin-shaped moon.
Out the corner of my eye, a glimmering reflection of sorts catches my peripheral vision. My interest, as ever, peaked, called me down from the security of my tree. All surroundings seemed to freeze in place and the wind no longer combed the grass through its fingers upon the silhouettes of rolling hills in the distance. The steady stream of stars faded into the backdrop of mist and entire constellations fell into meek hues as shadows.
Because this alluring ball of spark began to grow and splinter like rope pulled too thin. Within seconds, outstepped a man clad in an old-fashioned overcoat, scarf and solemn demeanour, fishing for something in his pocket.
The mysterious man’s lips were thread into a wide smile as his serious features cracked to reveal pure euphoric relief, or something to strongly rival it.
A device that looked like a pocket-watch clenched in his pale fist, he choked out his amazement.
“Tell me, is this the year 2098?”